A few slightly more philosophical tips on getting the best out of the big day!
The big day has finally arrived. After a restless nights sleep in a strange hotel, you wake up early to give yourself time to wash, eat, put on your race gear and out of the hotel then make your way down to the race start, HQ and maybe registration. You stumble bleary eyed down to the breakfast room to find it very empty and quiet, so quiet that there is still no food out, only the water machine gurgling away. Not even a reassuring clatter from the kitchen, damn – breakfast doesn’t start until late on the weekend and you need to be out of the door 30 minutes before then!
Already hungry and put out,you leave the hotel in a foul mood, cursing the staff for not foreseeing your need of an early breakfast on the most important day in the worlds existence. This then snowballs into yet more things going wrong and before you know it you are standing at the start line in a fog of disaster, waiting and wondering what the next thing to go wrong will be. Sure enough pretty soon you find something else that has gone wrong and things quickly spiral downhill, all you can think is how much of a disaster the whole event has been. You will get through it but it has not been the uplifting life changing experience you expected it to be! Your negative thoughts have taken over and you are now at their mercy!
Ok, that sounds pretty dismal and I really do hope that it has not happened to you particularly to that extent! However it can be amazing how when things don’t go to plan on race day or even the days leading up to it, we can get thrown out and if we are not careful let things get the better of us.
So here are a few tips and pieces of advice that you may be able to take on board and put into practice yourself, so you can get the most out of all the hard work you put in leading up to the big day!
1. Accept that you are not in control of everything. Just like life things will undoubtedly happen that you did not expect to happen. During the race, especially if it is a long one something will certainly happen that you did not expect. The one thing you can control is how you deal with this: accept and acknowledge it has happened, even have a chuckle to yourself. If it affects you, plan how to deal with it and move on or adjust your plan accordingly.
2. Take responsibility for yourself. If you are staying in a hotel, make sure before you get there that you know they will have breakfast at the time you need it, or you know where you will get it from, or just take your own stuff that you are used to eating anyway. If you only ever eat porridge in the morning don’t get to race day and have a full fry up just because you want to get your monies worth! (If you normally eat a fry up on race day go for it!) Just don’t do something you have not tried or practiced already and be responsible for yourself:no one else should be.
3. Tapering is not another word for “I will become a lazy ass slob!” If you are going to taper before an event then I would recommend not changing your routine very much at all. Reduce the overall volume of training and intensity of your sessions but keep moving and stay active; eat well balanced and healthy food; stay well hydrated; rest when you normally rest and if you can, stay as relaxed as possible. Aim to arrive at the start line bouncing off the walls raring to go, just don’t be tempted on that last run before race day to go mental and try to get a 5k pb because you feel invincible!
4. Be grateful for the training you have done, rather than worried about the training you have not. If you can focus on the good stuff and feel happy about it, the negative thoughts have far less opportunity to take hold and put doubt in your mind. You cannot change what has or has not been done. Any effort you have put in to your training is well earned and your body will have remembered it: you certainly will not have “forgotten” how to run when the gun goes off! Any training you have done and enjoyed is a bonus, there are plenty of people out there who cannot do what you are doing so be thankful that you can even make it to the start line!
5. This is an opportunity to do something incredible but not the end of your journey. Whatever happens, however you perform on the day whether it be good or bad, you will undoubtedly learn something about yourself you didn’t expect to know and be richer for it. The outcome may not be what you wanted or expected, or it may be much more. Whatever you are expecting to happen, life will still go on afterwards. Certainly be focused and driven towards your goal, but don’t hold onto it so tightly that fear of not achieving it paralyses you at the slightest hurdle. Enjoy the ride,even the bumps, twists and turns along the way and smile, even when it hurts